While you spent your Black Friday arm-wrestling over a VR headset in a Best Buy parking lot, Jay-Z was busy releasing three new visuals for the 4:44 songs “Legacy,” “Smile” and Marcy Me” on Tidal. In the “Legacy” video, Edi Gathegi, Jonathan Tucker, Emilie Hirsch, Jesse Williams and others navigate incarceration as the President’s Men, so called because their prison is controlled by, you got it, Mr. Carter. Portrayed by Ron Perlman, Mr. Carter seeks to cement his legacy in the minds of the innocent men imprisoned alongside him, as well as in the mind of the warden, played by one Ms. Susan Sarandon. What form that legacy takes, well, you’ll have to watch and find out.
“Smile,” meanwhile, take us back to Jay-Z’s youth in the ‘70s, the rapper a child and his mother Gloria a young woman who secretly falls in love with a neighbor and fellow mother. The actual Gloria Carter appears at the film’s end to recite the poem that appears on the tract, which describes her struggle with hiding her sexuality before eventually coming out as a lesbian. She concludes, “But life is short, and it’s time to be free / Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed/ Smile.”
“Marcy Me,” while much shorter than the other videos, delivers even more of a gut punch, as a police helicopter monitors Jay-Z’s hometown of Bed Stuy, the activities of its residents exposed and scrutinized from the sky.